How is coronavirus affecting life in Germany?
With thousands of confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus in Germany, the daily routine for many has been upended. From football to flights, car manufacturing to culture, DW looks at life amid the outbreak.
Food donations drop
Panic-buying has left empty shelves in supermarkets — and food banks. With Germans snapping up canned goods and toilet paper to weather the outbreak, stores have fewer supplies left over to donate to the needy, said Jochen Brühl, head of Tafel Deutschland, which supports more than 1.5 million people with surplus groceries and other donations. Brühl encouraged those who had overreacted to donate.
After playing one match behind closed doors, the Bundesliga has suspended its season until at least April 2. The Germany football league had considered playing matches behind closed doors until Paderborn's coach Steffen Baumgart and defender Luca Kilian tested positive for COVID-19.
Cultural life has also taken a hit, with major fairs and trade shows canceled or postponed. Among the casualties were the Leipzig Book Fair and the Musikmesse Frankfurt, Europe's biggest music trade fair. Numerous clubs, galleries and museums have closed across the country, and the gala award show for the annual German film and television award, the Goldene Kamera, has been moved to November.
Not the 'Wuhan flu'
The Chinese origin of the virus has led to an increase in xenophobic sentiment in the places worst hit by the outbreak. Asian restaurants and stores — not just Chinese — have reported empty tables in countries hard hit by the pandemic, and people with Asian features have experienced discrimination. At a recent Bundesliga game in Leipzig, a group of Japanese fans was ejected from the stadium.
German airline Lufthansa has massively reduced its flight capacity as business and personal travel is cut back. The flagship carrier is now seeking state aid, according to a report from Germany business newspaper Handelsblatt. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr will be attending a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to government sources.
Car production crippled
Car plants in China have been shut down since January, and major German automakers like Volkswagen and Daimler have said both sales and production have been hit by the epidemic. And with many automakers sourcing electric car parts from China, work at plants in Germany has also hit a stumbling block. Berlin has said it plans to financially support companies suffering coronavirus losses.
"The consequences for the German tourism sector are serious," warned Guido Zöllick, head of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association. Already by the second week of March, 76.1% of members had reported a sharp decrease in bookings and a drop in revenue. The German parliament has banned tourists from visiting the glass dome of the Reichstag building until further notice.
In an effort to prevent further spread, Germany has closed its borders with France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria and Denmark. Authorities in Poland and the Czech Republic had already begun spot checks, measuring the temperature of travelers crossing main road borders out of Germany.
Preschools and primary schools across Germany have shut. The closures have affected more than 2.2 million children up to age 16 countrywide, according to Germany's Federal Statistical Office. German television stations have adjusted their programming in response to the school closures.